As I walked into my office Murray was waiting to see me.
“Leathers I’m getting married and I want you to be my best man”
I needed this like a dose of venereal disease . . . again.
“That’s great Murray who is the lucky lady?”
“It’s Tim Dipaolo”
Tim Dipaolo was Senator Hiberts brother’s wife’s nephew, we had gotten him a job several years ago with the State Department of Taxation and Finance and he was now the number 3 man at tax. Another piece of the puzzle may just have fallen in my lap.
“I didn’t know that you and Tim were a . . . “
“Well yes but I meant gay”
“Well we are and we’re in love and we want to get married”
“So get married what the fuck do I care?”
“I thought you would be happy for me”
“I am Murray I’m just a little disappointed in you”
“Disappointed? Why? My gay lifestyle hasn’t affected my work”
“But it has Murray don’t you see the mark of a great lobbyist is to take advantage of every opportunity and use it to your benefit and in that you have failed and hence my disappointment”
“What opportunity have I not taken advantage of?”
“The gay mafia”
“The gay mafia? What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about the fact that there is a large population of people in government that share your lifestyle, they all know each other and they all help the cause am I right?”
“Well yes Leathers but it’s not something that I would ever take advantage of”
“And that Murray is why you will never be a great lobbyist. But Albany needs merely competent lobbyists too. But if you ever want to be a partner at Leathers and Lace and live the lifestyle I’m sure Tim wants you need to be great”
“And that means I have to use other gays to achieve my goals”
“That means you have to use every tool at your disposal, I’ll give you an example. Right now our whole industry is under attack from Ping and this RICO witch hunt he is on. We need intel on Ping and your fiancé can help us and help you by getting you a copy of Ping’s tax returns for the last decade or so. With any luck he played fast and loose with his taxes after he cashed out on micro condoms. You never know until you look. Tim can get you a copy if you ask”
“And that would make me a partner?”
“No that would make you someone I’d be proud to call a lobbyist. Making partner would mean the tax returns actually helped us and that you would learn how to leverage your sexuality to help the firm”
“And you don’t think it’s wrong to use my relationship with Tim to get the tax returns?”
“Wrong? I think it’s a moral imperative. If my wife worked at tax you can bet your gay ass I’d have a terminal at home wired directly into the tax department and I’d know every penny these motherfuckers made and spent”
“Leathers your wife is a marital therapist”
“And don’t you think Murray that if a politician was having marital difficulties I would know and use it to the firm’s advantage?”
“Well . . .”
“Murray how did you get your job here?”
“You hired me Leathers from Assemblyman Waxworth’s office”
“And what happened that made you want to leave public service?”
“Waxworth was going to resign because his wife found out he was on Ashley Madison and was going to divorce him and in his district that was the kiss of death. There was no future with Waxworth”
“So my call to you at that exact time was a lucky coincidence huh?”
“Leathers was Waxworth your wife’s client?”
“Nope, the married guy that Waxworth’s wife was fucking on the side was. You use what you have Murray that’s the mark of a great lobbyist, now go be great and let me know if your bachelor party needs to be a pitcher or catchers convention. And by the way where are we with the truffle butter tax exemption bill?”
“I got Hiberts people to go for the big ugly we are wrapping it into the amendments on the safe/dream act. With any luck it should pass both houses this week and go to the governor for signature next week.”
“That’s great Murray but let’s make sure it gets signed. Check with the gay mafia and see if anyone is working on the big ugly that could throw a turd in the punch bowl”
“Turd in the punch bowl is that a gay double entendre?”
“Of course not Murray”
Now I would have to research gay double entendres just to keep Murray on edge.
“But Murray do me a favor, ask Pat to bring me the takeout menu from that new sandwich shop”
“Which one is that Leathers?”
“You must have been there Murray . . . I think it’s called the Painted Pickle”
“That’s not funny Leathers”
Murray was right I was going to have to put a lot of work into my gay joke repertoire.
As Murray left Alex Shimmel surprised me and walked in.
“Hello Leathers did you congratulate Murray on his upcoming nuptials?”
“How did you know?”
“Know that he was getting married or know that he was gay?”
“Well I introduced Murray to Tim several months ago, they make a lovely couple don’t you think?”
“You introduced them?”
“Of course I did how else were you going to get access to tax returns Leathers? You’re not exactly a card carrying member of the mafia are you? And by mafia I mean both the real thing and the gay one. So let’s talk about your Lev problem and your misplaced desire to terminate our professional relationship”
“How did you know that?”
“Please Leathers assume I know everything that you, Karp, Lev, Richard, Ravi and Jelly combined know. Now what are you doing to stop Richard and the marijuana deal?”
“Look Alex you hired me for my expertise at what I do, the Italians and the Jews want to kill me because of that expertise, just let me do my job and if it’s not too much trouble keep me from becoming a kosher dill pickle”
“Relax Leathers you’re not going to be pickled by a psychotic Jew or shot in the back of the head with a small caliber firearm by the Italians. But you might have to get a real job if Ping gets that monitor appointed and if my clients don’t get what they want we all end up in some bathroom in Miami Beach getting the chainsaw treatment.”
“Sure like in that Pacino movie “Scarface” great flick the company made a fortune on the distribution rights, I even got in the credits at the very end as a technical consultant, I love the movie business, now those motherfuckers in Hollywood are stone cold gangsters, you could learn something from them.”
“But Alex how . ..”
Alex’s cell phone vibrated.
“I’ve got to take this, it’s Ping he’s got some reporter calling him about hookers”
Alex left as quickly as he came in and I sat back in my chair wondering if all the moving pieces of my life would ever fall into place.
When I was this confused there was only one person I could count on to think outside the box and cut thru the bullshit. I had him on retainer and on my speed dial but I rarely spoke with him because every conversation reminded me of Cadillac Curtis’s motto of the chump at the poker table. It wasn’t a comfort to know you were the sixth best poker player in the world if you only played poker with the top five.
I picked up my phone and hit speed dial for Denny Dejardin anyway.